No sooner was Florida State raising that crystal football did the massive college football fan base begin looking forward to the 2014 season. Beginning Thursday night, fan bases will light up the grill, crack open a cold one, and begin celebrating the annual rebirth of college football.
Every fan base is talking themselves into this being their year. Mascots such as Tigers, Badgers, Buckeyes, Ducks, Seminoles and Gators believe this is their time. The 2014 college football season introduces a concept never before seen, a playoff. What nearly every other NCAA sport has, the college game will have for the very first time. The magic number this year will be 4. Be one of four teams into the college football playoff and you will control your own destiny.
If you are short on time this weekend, below are three games from that will not disappoint.
#21 Texas A&M at #9 South Carolina
Site: Williams-Brice Stadium – Columbia, SC
The last time the Aggies started a season with a brand new quarterback, a legend in Johnny Manziel was born. The expectations were high for Manziel after replacing current Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was taken #8 overall in the 2012 draft. For the Aggie faithful, they hope history can repeat itself with Kenny Hill, a talented QB who reigns from Texas high school powerhouse, Southlake Carroll. The Gamecocks will also be replacing current back-up Cleveland Browns QB Connor Shaw with a slightly more experienced player in Dylan Thompson. If there was a way to get this college season going in a big way, this certainly has all the key ingredients. Both teams are ranked and will play on a national stage for a night game under the lights in Columbia.
#16 Clemson at #12 Georgia
Site: Sanford Stadium – Athens, GA
No Aaron Murray. No Tajh Boyd. No Sammy Watkins. No need for concern, as this game will be as thrilling as last year’s game played down in Clemson with just as much fire power. The key here will be how the new pieces fall into place. First year Clemson QB, Cole Stoudt, will take on first year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt at Georgia. Pruitt, who was the Florida State defensive coordinator for their title run in 2013 also won national titles as the Crimson Tide as a secondary coach in 2010 and 2012. What does that mean? Stoudt will likely face the best defensive mind he has ever been up against in his very first game as a starter. The hostile territory in Athens will require an extraordinary effort for the Tigers to triumph over the Bulldogs.
#14 Wisconsin at #13 LSU
Site: NRG Stadium – Houston, Texas
The Tigers and Badgers have been two of the more consistent college programs over the last few years. This neutral site game played in Houston will set the tone for the remainder of the season for each of these powerhouse programs. With only four teams getting into the playoff, and strength of schedule being a major component, this game will likely mean a great deal for each team at season’s end. Both teams will be relying on a new signal callers, and neither has been able to produce a clear-cut favorite throughout camp. The Big 10 repeatedly has been looked to for opportunities to really make a statement and gain conference credibility, and this game against the Tigers gives the Badgers their shot.